Beardyman at KOKO, London

All the cool kids will know that Thursdays are the new Fridays in London. Packing out Camden’s famous theatre-cum-nightclub, Beardyman captivates the midweek crowds of KOKO with his unfathomable vocal capacity. Looking slightly less bearded than his name would suggest, he lingers among a set-up of high tech equipment before launching into the wobs and drops of electro beatbox.

If you’d never heard of Beardyman, you’d be pushed to believe that the sounds protruding through KOKO’s speakers were the production of one human being’s larynx. Making use of his techy equipment and loop pedal, Beardyman layers vocal sound upon vocal sound to create a blend of musical styles and electronic mash ups.

He experiments with a whole collection of sounds reminiscent of dubstep, drum and bass, techno, reggae, jazz and “gabber flabber” – or so he calls it. Each rhythm is accompanied by a kaleidoscopic video stream of trippy colours and close-up headshots, as the far-from-sober audience skank along.

Taking occasional breaks to have a quick chat, we are given a glimpse of Beardyman’s equally extraordinary mind. He flits between ramblings about Pilates and “dad music”, and even reverts to speaking in an incomprehensible rhetoric at one stage.

Following a short interlude after a harmonised drum and bass mix, Beardyman returns for a mind-blowing encore. Ditching his computers, he steps to the front of the stage and launches into an astounding a capella breakdown. He throws some well-known hits into the mix, with glimpses of the Chemical Brother’s “Galvanize” weaved in. Proving that he needs no pre-recordings, Beardyman supplies the ultimate crowd pleaser.

Closing the night with improv, Beardyman asks the audience to suggest a song topic. Among of chorus of shouts and suggestions, he picks out birthday girl Ella Woods in the front row and launches into an improvised birthday song. What begins as a cheesy rhyme soon spirals into the depths of trance. The near two-hour set draws to its climatic finish and the audience is left truly captivated.
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